By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family
Healthy living for Seniors with Cancer

If you have cancer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for feeling your best and improving your chances of treatment success. Senior cancer patients can benefit from a wide range of healthy habits, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and socialization. These healthy habits will help you manage treatment side effects and reduce painful cancer symptoms—and help you feel a little better every day! Here are some great ways to live healthy with a cancer diagnosis. Seek Out Support A good support network is vital to your overall health and wellness during treatment and beyond. Cancer patients with a good support network report better quality of life than those without. The people around you can provide all kinds of valuable assistance, including emotional support to help Read more…

Radon

You can’t see it or smell it. It’s in the air, both outdoors and in, as well as in drinking water from rivers and streams. It can be deadly. It may sound like something from a science fiction story, but it’s real. It’s radon. Why is Radon a Big Deal? Each year, it contributes to as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths.[1] It’s a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking and is the number 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Non-smokers account for 20% of annual lung cancer deaths in the US[2] What is Radon? Radon is an odorless, colorless, highly radioactive gas. The alpha radiation released by radon is the same as that of plutonium. It’s soluble and easily penetrates materials Read more…

Celebrate Special Days

Something that everyone faces after losing a loved one is the pain of special days without them. Holidays, anniversaries, milestones all come with regularity regardless of whether or not we feel like celebrating them. Often the dread of how we will handle these days is worse than the days themselves. We wonder how we can celebrate anything ever again. In the last 2 months my husband’s birthday and my own, our 10th wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving and Christmas, have all come and gone.  I have learned a few things from these experiences that will hopefully help you if you aren’t sure of how to celebrate special days without someone you love. Plan how to celebrate special days ahead of time Rather than avoiding them, think about Read more…

Merry Christmas

Until then, have a wonderful time with family and friends. God bless you and yours!  

Grieving During the Holidays

While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and family gatherings, when you are faced with cancer, there is a real mixture of emotions that come at this time of year. That’s because whether you or a loved one currently has cancer, or you’ve lost someone close to the disease you will feel the full effects of grieving during the holidays. Our Story We discovered my husband’s stage IV lung cancer at the end of October, just a couple of days before our 3rd wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks before his 52nd birthday, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, 2 months before Christmas, and then 2013, the year he would statistically die.  In 2 months’ time, we trudged through all of these days Read more…

cancer and insomnia

Dealing with cancer can be overwhelming enough. When you are also dealing with insomnia, the effects on your mental health and ability to heal can be devastating. You need quality rest in order to recover and manage your cancer symptoms, but you also need it to properly manage your emotional well-being. So how can you do all of this without turning to medications? You can start by trying some of these sleep-boosting tips and tricks. Invest in a Comforting New Mattress and Bedding to Beat Insomnia Shopping for a new mattress can be stressful, When you are also living with cancer, dealing with that extra stress can be detrimental to your emotional health. Luckily, you can order one of the new “bed-in-a-box” mattresses from the Read more…

Job's Friends People Blame God

Previously, we’ve explored the incorrect (though often subconscious) idea that a person diagnosed with a life-altering illness, such as cancer, must have done something to cause it; smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating patterns, etc. I concluded the post by sharing how to be a supportive friend when someone is going through a trial, rather than one of Job’s comforters, blaming the sufferer. Beyond outward behaviors that may or may not have contributed to someone getting cancer, there is often a blame game of another sort—sin and God’s will. Today we will look at why people blame God for trials and sufferings in life. This is the second post that looks at Job from the Bible to gain insight into suffering. Why people blame God when they Read more…

Holiday Stress

Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas usually mean getting together with family. It’s part of what makes the holidays special. But, it can also be stressful. Sometimes family relationships are strained, adding anxiety to the mix. What makes this worse? How can you cope with stress within your family, especially during the holidays? Part of it will depend on personality. What’s your personality type? Are you typically: Laid back, able to roll with whatever comes at you? Uncomfortable with changes in your life, even positive changes? Quick to see what could go wrong, and able to find solutions to those problems? Always able to keep a positive outlook, even if that sometimes means avoiding the possibility that something could go wrong? Prone to depression or anxiety, Read more…

survive the holidays

Surviving the holidays can be difficult when you or someone you love is literally trying to survive the holidays. This almost always means the celebration will look different. I’ve put together a few thoughts and tips to give you a leg up. To survive the holidays you must first accept that things will be different. You won’t be participating in the cookie exchange or Christmas caroling. Things that were once fun, are in this new reality, exhausting. Even if you do have the energy to do them, they may zap your reserves so that you’re left burned out. One of the best things you can do is to recognize that the holidays will look different this year—maybe from now on. That’s okay. Change is a Read more…

Every October I try to predict peak color in the deciduous trees. Then I head off to the woods in St. Francis, Minnesota to spend a few days at Pacem in Terris (Latin for “Peace on Earth”). This year, I went at the perfect time. Taking a break is something everyone should do. Sometimes you may need it more than others. I found that the harder it is to make time in your schedule, the more important taking a break is. Get beyond the guilt of taking a break. This can be hard for caregivers. You spend all of your time trying to maintain control. Walking away for a few days means giving up the reigns to someone else. You may worry about how your family Read more…

Facing Cancer with Grace

How do you respond when someone you know tells you they’re facing cancer? So often, people feel at a loss for words. How can you make a difference at such a difficult time in your friend’s life? You don’t have to feel helpless. Facing Cancer as a Friend will show you what to say (and what not to say). You’ll learn how to use your gifts and strengths to support your friend when they need it most. Updated and Revised Edition! I’m pleased to announce that the updated and revised edition of Facing Cancer as a Friend is now available. It has improved formatting along with the encouraging content that has made this book such a hit. If you haven’t gotten a copy already, now is Read more…

Supportive Connections

What is resilience? It’s the ability to bounce when we come up against something tough, like cancer. Will we bounce like a rubber ball, or like a tomato? I learned a lot about resilience at the 2018 Breath of Hope Lung Foundation’s Lung Cancer Summit. Perhaps my greatest takeaways came from a talk delivered by Dr. Jeffery Kendall. PsyD, LP.[1] Dr. Kendall delivered a keynote address entitled, Resilience and Hope for Survivors & Caregivers. In the next few weeks, I am going to share a few of the things I learned from this inspiring message. I’ll start today by touching on the first key ingredient to a resilient life: supportive connections. The impact of supportive connections on cancer survivors and caregivers can’t be overlooked. Yet Read more…

caregiver team

It’s that time of year: NFL Draft Pick!  As a caregiver, you need to have a strong team on your side. While the NFL is choosing their overpaid players, you need to choose who you can count on to be on your caregiver team to help you get through the tough road ahead. The Caregiver is the Quarterback You call all of the plays. If something takes you out of the game, the team often falls apart. So, you need a strong support system behind you. Rather than equate the rest of the team to actual football positions, I will just label them as the positions they play on the caregiver team (Because I really don’t know much about football). Your Medical Team Your medical Read more…

Overwhelming Sadness

At some point, we will all experience it. It’s likely that most of us already have: Overwhelming sadness. How do you deal with it?

Grief in Children

Everyone will experience grief at some time in their life. It’s important to recognize that children grieve, as well. grief in children is often overlooked and misunderstood. Today we will look at grief in children and how we can help them to heal after a loss. “You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream.” (Help Pages.org Grief and Loss) Most people think that grief is something that they’ll deal with when someone they love dies. In truth, the process of grieving begins at the moment you realize you of a loved one has cancer. This is a huge shift in your life Read more…

get better sleep

It’s common for cancer patients and their caregivers to have trouble sleeping. These disruptions crop up early on as scanxiety rears it’s ugly head and pain from cancer or side effects from its treatment interfere with your sleep. Today, guest blogger Amanda Lassater will be sharing tips for how you can get better sleep this year. Sleep is an essential ingredient to any person’s healthy routine. Those who fail to get enough rest on a nightly basis have been shown to suffer from diminished cognitive skills, less ability to focus and concentrate, and are more prone to irritability and agitation. Proper sleep becomes even more critical when complicated by such things as disease or serious illness, as we will explore further: Why is Sleep so Read more…

mesothelioma advocate

As an advocate for cancer patients and their families, I daily hear from people facing cancer. Recently, a gentleman named Virgil wrote to me about his experience, Doctors recently diagnosed Virgil with mesothelioma. This diagnosis turned Virgil’s life upside down. What is Mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the thin protective tissues which cover the lungs and the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes cancer in the mesothelium tissues. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that are fibrous in nature and functions well as a fire retardant. It was once a commonly used insulator. Now that the dangers of asbestos are well known, it has fallen out of use. It can still be found Read more…

Faith and Cancer

Your children are developing their own sense of self, and their own personal faith. When a parent has cancer, their faith often goes through a period of questioning. How could God allow their mom or dad to have cancer? Where is God in all of this? Is God punishing them? We are often confronted with the question of why bad things happen to good people. People believe many different answers to this question, even within the Christian faith. Faith, itself is born out of questions. In the Bible, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Questions are a matter of not being able to see the end of the tunnel. Faith is what keeps you Read more…

caught off guard by cancer

How can you avoid being caught off guard by cancer? No one expects to be diagnosed with cancer. But there are ways to lower your risk. You can also arm yourself with information on how to handle a crisis like cancer so that if you or a loved one does face this disease, you don’t feel completely powerless. Cancer is a lot like a C-Section When I was pregnant with my daughter, Summer, I ate up every prenatal class with all of the excitement and anticipation you would expect from someone expecting their first child. I was determined to do everything right. So, I paid close attention as the instructor gave each new lesson, even when they taught us the breathing technique that you always see Read more…

Good Nutrition

Getting good nutrition can be difficult when you have cancer, both because of the disease and side effects of the treatment. There are some things you can do to overcome this obstacle to your healing. Cancer can make good nutrition more difficult Patients with head and neck cancer often have malnutrition before they start treatment. This is due to pain and trouble swallowing, swelling, and bleeding. Often a patient needs to consider a feeding tube as a temporary way of receiving the nutrients they need during their treatment.  Eating softer foods is important when you have cancer of the head and neck. The pancreas makes an enzyme which helps break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This enzyme aids digestion and helps to neutralize stomach acid Read more…

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